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French nationality law is historically based on the principles of jus soli (Latin for "right of soil"), according to Ernest Renan's definition, in opposition to the German's definition of nationality, Jus sanguinis (Latin for "right of blood"), formalized by Fichte.
The 1993 Méhaignerie Law required children born in France of foreign parents to request French nationality at adulthood, rather than being automatically accorded citizenship. This "manifestation of will" requirement was subsequently abrogated by the Guigou Law of 1998, but children born in France of foreign parents remain foreign until obtaining legal majority.
As in most industrialized countries[which?], but unlike the United States[neutrality is disputed], children born in France to tourists or short-term visitors do not acquire French citizenship by virtue of birth in France: residency must be proven. As immigration became more and more of a political theme in the 1980s, albeit accompanied by a lower immigration rate (see Demographics in France), both left-wing and right-wing governments have issued several laws restricting more and more the possibilities of being naturalized.
Plenary adoption is the only act of filiation which carries direct effects on nationality. Unlike the process of simple adoption, a child adopted according to the procedure of plenary adoption breaks any bond with his family of origin.
Children born in France (including overseas territories) to at least one parent who is also born in France automatically acquire French citizenship at birth (double jus soli).
A child born in France to foreign parents may acquire French citizenship:
A child who was born abroad and who has only one French parent can repudiate his French nationality during the six months prior to his or her reaching the age of majority, or in the year which follows it (article 19-4 of the Civil Code).
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|Past colonies/territories||Date of independence or transfer|
|Algeria||3 July 1962 (effect of independence on nationality is 1 January 1963)|
|Bénin (ex Dahomey)||1 August 1960|
|Burkina Faso (ex Upper Volta)||5 August 1960|
|Central African Republic (ex Oubangui-Chari)||13 August 1960|
|Chandannagar||2 February 1951 (independence effect 9 June 1952)|
|Comoros (except Mayotte)||December 1975 (independence effect 11 April 1976)|
|Congo-Brazzaville||15 August 1960|
|Côte d'Ivoire||7 August 1960|
|Djibouti (ex Territoire français des Afars et des Issas)||27 July 1977|
|Gabon||17 August 1960|
|Guinea||1 October 1958|
|Karikal (ex Établissement français de l'Inde)||28 May 1956 (independence effect 16 August 1962)|
|Madagascar||26 June 1960|
|Mahé (ex Établissement français de l'Inde)||28 May 1956 (independence effect 16 August 1962)|
|Mali (ex French Sudan)||20 June 1960|
|Mauritania||28 November 1960|
|Niger||3 August 1960|
|Pondichéry (ex Établissement français de l'Inde)||28 May 1956 (independence effect 16 August 1962)|
|Senegal||20 June 1960|
|Chad||11 August 1960|
|Vanuatu||31 July 1980|
|Vietnam||16 August 1954 (independence effect the 1 June 1949)|
|Yanaon (ex Établissement français de l'Inde)||28 May 1956 (independence effect 16 August 1962)|
A person aged 18 or above may apply for French citizenship by naturalisation after five years' habitual and continuous residence in France (if married and with children, then the applicant must be living in France with his/her family). In addition, it is required that the applicant has his/her primary source of income in France during the five year period. Those applying who are not European Union, European Economic Area or Swiss nationals are required to be in possession of a "titre de séjour" (a residence permit).
Naturalisation will only be successful for those who are judged to have integrated into French society (i.e. by virtue of language skills and understanding of rights and responsibilities of a French citizen, to be demonstrated during an interview at the local prefecture), and who show loyalty to French institutions.
Naturalisation through residency is accorded by publication of a decree in the Journal Officiel by decision of the Ministry of Labour, Social Cohesion and Housing. There is an obligatory delay of 18 months from the date of submission before the applicant is notified of the result of his/her naturalisation application.
The child (legitimate or natural) is French if at least one parent is French.
In the case of an adoption, the child has French nationality only under the “full adoption” regime.
Parentage to the parent from whom the French nationality is claimed, must be established while the child is still a minor (under 18).
The child (legitimate or natural) is French if born in France to at least one parent also born in France.
Simply being born in France does not confer French nationality except in the case of a child born to unknown or stateless parents, or to aliens whose nationality is not transmitted to the child.
A child born in France before January 1, 1994, to a parent born in a former French overseas territory prior to its acquisition of independence, is automatically French. The same is true for a child born after 1 January 1963, to a parent born in Algeria before July 3, 1962.
You may be able to apply for French nationality if your spouse is French and you can prove that you have been married for five years and that you live together or four years of marriage if the French spouse is registered since at least four years at the Consulate General of France in New York.(article 79 of law 2006-911 published in the JO of 25/07/2006). You must also have a good knowledge of the French language, spoken and written. The couple must appear in person together to sign documents.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2009)|
According to the French Republic, the French people are those who are in possession of French nationality. According to the French Constitution, "France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralised basis." Article 1
Since the middle of the 19th century, France has exhibited a very high rate of immigration, mainly from Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Maghreb, Africa and Asia. According to a 2004 report by INED researcher Michèle Tribalat France has approximately 14 million persons (out of nearly 63 million) (see demographics of France) of foreign ascendancy (immigrants or with at least one parent or great-parent immigrant), mostly black or Muslim.
The absence of official statistics on French citizens of foreign origin is not coincidental. Under French law passed after the Vichy regime, it is forbidden to categorize people according to their ethnic origins. In France, as in many European countries, censuses do not collect information on supposed ancestry. Moreover, all French statistics are forbidden to have any references concerning ethnic membership. Thus, the French government's assimilationist stance towards immigration as well as towards regional identities and cultures, together with the political heritage of the French revolution has led to the development of a French identity which is based more on the notion of citizenship than on cultural, historical or ethnic ties.
For this reason, French identity must not necessarily be associated with the "ethnic French people", but can be associated with either a nationality and citizenship, or a culture and language-based group. The latter forms the basis for La Francophonie, a group of French-speaking countries, or countries with historical and cultural association to France. The concept of "French ethnicity" exists outside France's borders, in particular in Quebec where some people claim membership to a "French ethnic group", but here again many view it as not so much ethnicity-based as language-based, and would also include immigrants from, for example, Haiti. France's particular self-perception means that French identity may include a naturalized, French-speaking ethnic Portuguese or Algerian. Nonetheless, like in other European countries, some level of discrimination does occur, and there are higher unemployment rates among job-seekers with foreign-sounding names.
In modern France in general the rights are fundamentally the same as those in other EU countries.
Despite this official discourse of universality, French nationality has not meant automatic citizenship. Some categories of French people have been excluded, throughout the years, from full citizenship:
Furthermore, some authors who have insisted on the "crisis of the nation-state" allege that nationality and citizenship are becoming separate concepts. They show as example "international", "supranational citizenship" or "world citizenship" (membership to transnational organizations, such as Amnesty International or Greenpeace NGOs). This would indicate a path toward a "postnational citizenship".
Beside this, modern citizenship is linked to civic participation (also called positive freedom), which design voting, demonstrations, petitions, activism, etc. Therefore, social exclusion may lead to deprive one of his/her citizenship. This has led various authors (Philippe Van Parijs, Jean-Marc Ferry, Alain Caillé, André Gorz) to theorize a guaranteed minimum income which would impede exclusion from citizenship.
Dual citizenship has been permitted since 1973. Possession of one or more other nationalities, does not, in principle, affect the French nationality. France denounced the Chapter I of the Council of Europe Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and on Military Obligations in Cases of Multiple Nationality of May 6, 1963. The denunciation took effect March 5, 2009. 
According to philosopher Giorgio Agamben, France was one of the first European countries to pass denaturalisation laws, in 1915, with regard to naturalized citizens of "enemy" origins. Its example was followed by most European countries.
As soon as July 1940, Vichy France set up a special Commission charged of reviewing the naturalizations granted since the 1927 reform of the nationality law. Between June 1940 and August 1944, 15,000 persons, mostly Jews, were denaturalized. This bureaucratic decision was instrumental in their subsequent internment.